What it looks like when repairmen come to your house in Abu Dhabi:
Everybody’s shoes get left at the door–whether it’s friends stopping by for a visit or workers coming to see why the dishwasher spews water all over the kitchen floor.
And even if I say to the repairmen, “no, it’s okay, please keep your shoes on,” the guys nod and smile and leave their shoes at the door. It’s not just repair crews, either–furniture delivery people pause at the doorstep to kick off their shoes, no matter what they’re carrying and no matter what I say; my cleaning lady does the chores barefoot.
Bare feet seem less intimate, somehow, than stocking feet. Sometimes one of the maintenance guys will have a hole in his sock, sometimes the socks don’t match; it’s like a tiny glimpse into their lives. It’s an oddly vulnerable thing, isn’t it, that toe poking out of a worn sock?
Seeing the shoes lined up outside a door–or just inside the door, next to the rack that holds the “inside shoes” (flip-flops, slippers, slides) is one of those small moments when I realize I’m very far from “home.”